Nocs came about after I read another book and was disappointed by the overkill of magic and magical creatures, but what also bothered me was the author’s consistent denial of beauty in her lead female characters. It was usually made a strong point, that the lead female character was plain – not beautiful. Alright, I can see that the author was rejecting the traditional fairy tale take on stock characters. Why do the most beautiful women only get to have all the adventure, the princes, the castles, the happy ever afters? Let’s put a plain and normal girl in the role – it could happen to her too, right?
So why did that bother me?
Well, what I was wondering was why the character wasn’t viewed as beautiful? You see, I tend to think of most people as beautiful in one way or another. It takes some severe deformation for me to shudder and wonder what a person did in an earlier life to piss off the gods so severely, but perhaps even then, if I get to know them, I’ll think of them as lovely. I’m extremely influenced by someone’s character in my judgment of their beauty and I reject the phrase Beauty is Only Skin Deep. (Yeah-yeah, I get its meaning.) So, am I saying that the beauty of someone’s personality should be considered along with their outer appearance? Well that’s true too, I suppose, but no, I’m saying that the beauty of their personality actual alters how we view their physical appearance. We tend to think of people as more beautiful if we like them or love them. So back to the author’s lead females – why didn’t she consider her lead characters as beautiful? (Again, I know what she was going for, but I beg to rebel.)
So okay, we’re also influenced by cultural ideals and personal associations. In Nocs, Miranda is described as being beautiful in a universal sense, meaning she’s generally described as beautiful by most. Why did I make her beautiful?
In the defense of fairy tale
I want a story to take me to the extraordinaire: not only the beautiful but to the glamorous or action-packed stuff I never experience in my own small life. It’s a nice escape. It takes a lot of gut, and denial, to claim we don’t care about beauty, in any form. If you truly bought into your preschool teachers ideological myth that it’s only what’s on the inside that matters, well, I’d refer to what sociologists call the Looking Glass Self. It’s simply not that simple, and if it was, why do we give a &#$%* about other pretty things? How is Mona Lisa beautiful if we can’t see her inner beauty? We all seek beauty – in the world around us, in the details of our lives; curtains, jewelry, cars. We apply ideals of beauty to the human form, too. So, I made my characters beautiful – Miranda is pretty and Daniel is handsome. Varian is cool looking and has extraordinary attributes. There are many ways someone can be special, and beauty is one attribute we all appreciate. And as you read on, you’ll discover that I describe all of my “good” characters as attractive in one way or another.
We also like to identify with characters in stories. When we enter a story, we experience everything with the characters, and you know what, I enjoy being young and beautiful, having an adventure, falling in love, triumph over the antagonist etc. This is what a story allows me to do. I made Miranda beautiful and interesting so I could be those things alongside with her. I bet most of us have an inner beauty concept quite deserving of the idea, and rightfully so. It’s a transcendental part of ourselves – as long as we aren’t abused beyond self-value, it’s a birthright to have a concept of ourselves as beautiful. We know the rest is just frivolous societal influences. In our minds, if we really lived in that fairy tale land…
Well, that was until I started asking around. I posed the question to a couple of female co-workers in the break-room at my day-job, “How do you prefer your female lead character in a book to look like?” The answer was “average,” so they could relate to the character they told me. Next, I asked what the lead man should look like, and one of the women instantly proclaimed “super hot!”
Well, I guess I have more research to do…